House Dems turn DC voucher debate into China currency debate

Some Democrats then spoke on behalf of the currency bill, saying it is critical to take up this measure to help save U.S. jobs. The bill would allow duties on Chinese imports in certain circumstances in order to counteract what many charge is an undervalued Chinese currency that lowers the effective U.S. price of Chinese goods.

"I'm tired of reading the Constitution and all the silly things we've done for the last 13 weeks," Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) argued. "When are we going to see anything having to do with job creation?"

Republicans rejected these arguments, which became moot when the House approved the rule in a 235-178 vote. In addressing the voucher bill itself, Republicans argued that hundreds of Washington, D.C., parents made different educational choices for their children when the D.C. voucher program was in place.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said he opposes the bill because it would dictate the educational system in the District.

"How dare we come here to tell these people that we are now going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single bit of consultation with a single member of the public officials in this community?" he asked. "This matter is nothing more than a shallow attempt to once again appease the right wing of the Republican Party."

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) rejected that assertion and said demand for the voucher program in Washington is high, including among former D.C. mayors.

-- This post was updated at 2:02 p.m. to reflect the vote on the rule